Telecom operators could not resume the sale and activation of new Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards on Monday. They were awaiting the official go ahead from industry regulator Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Some of the agents contracted to do the job, the telecoms operators said were yet restart work.
There was no activity at the popular Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos, when The Nation visited on Monday.
The agents were not on hand to register new subscribers neither were there willing customers to buy SIMS.
One of the shop owners in the market, Godwin Enamoh, blamed the lull on timing, as according to him, the ban was lifted on Thursday while the information was disseminated on Friday.
He said: “You can see that there’s nothing happening around this market. Remember the ban was imposed in December. So, it will take some time for the agents to stock the agents with goods and the necessary equipment to do the data capturing of prospective subscribers.”
Many said that Communications and Digital Economy Minister Ibrahim Pantami’s lifting order was political and given to calm frayed nerves as it has no follow-up directive from the NCC.
source said: “At least, the NCC should have written to the operators formally conveying the directive of the minister to the operators. When the minister decreed the ban on the sale, registration and activation of new SIM cards, the operators were notified by the regulator.
“Remember the industry is a regulated one and no operator is prepared to do something that will suggest that one is not law-abiding.”
Last Thursday, the minister announced that the government has approved the activation of new SIM card registration with mandatory National Identification Number (NIN) linking, starting from April 19.
The announcement was made in a statement by the minister’s Technical Assistant on Information Technology, Femi Adeluyi.
“The implementation of the policy will commence yesterday, 19th of April 2021. The issuance of new SIMs and other suspended activities will resume on the same date, as long as verification is done and the guidelines are fully adhered to,” the statement reads.
On December 9 last year, the government ordered mobile telecommunication operators in the country to stop the sale and registration of new SIM cards.
“In line with the Federal Government desire to consolidate the achievement of the SIM Card registration of September, 2019, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to embark on another audit of the Subscriber Registration Database again.”
It said the objective of the audit was to verify and ensure compliance by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) with the set quality standards and requirements of SIM Card Registration as issued by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Commission.
“Accordingly, MNOs are hereby directed to immediately suspend the sale, registration and activation of new SIM Cards until the audit exercise is concluded, and Government has conveyed the new direction,” the statement read.
Speaking on the NIN registration progress, Mr Adeluyi said the biometric verification process had been slower than anticipated, owing largely to the non-adherence of many previous SIM biometric capture processes to the National Identity Management Commission standards.
He added that the revised policy would ensure that operators conform to the required standards for biometric capture, urging citizens and legal residents to bear with the government as the process had been developed in the best interest of the country.